Shrew poo and worm goo are science too

Last week I had the pleasure of being a speaker at Buck Lodge Middle School’s Career Day. Several public schools in Maryland, where Buck Lodge is located, and other states organize important events like these to get students thinking about future opportunities. Do you remember what it was like to be in middle school? To the middle school me, a career seemed distant, vague and, frankly, too overwhelming to really think about. But the...

Read More

Science in a “culture of news-grazers”

When was the last time you sat down after dinner to watch the local news? How about the last time you forwarded or received a link to a news story? Odds are, with the prevalence of social networking, blogs and email, you probably sent or received news in some form during your lunch break this afternoon. In fact, just by reading this post you are providing evidence that consumers tend to prefer cherry picking news throughout the day,...

Read More

Science communication: from the field to the press

The reasons for sharing research with the media are relatively widely known: If a certain research topic is going to be highlighted as an important issue, then it needs to be shared with the public. And reporters are one of the best ways to give research exposure. The question, then, is what makes research newsworthy? David Lodge from the University of Notre Dame, Maywa Montenegro from Seed Magazine and Natasha Gilbert from Nature...

Read More

The art of communicating climate change

This post was contributed by Piper Corp, ESA Science Policy Analyst   London-based writer and philosopher Alain de Botton recently shared his thoughts on the environment. In a UN Chronicle essay, de Botton says that climate change is different from threats we’ve faced in the past—whether natural disasters or nuclear warfare—in that it is neither outside our control nor a result of deliberate action. The product of the day-to-day...

Read More

The Royal Society’s geoengineering report

Here’s another one of those examples where the link between scientists and the public can break down, leading to conflicting or erroneous reports. As reported by the Nature blog The Great Beyond, when the Royal Society released a report on climate geoengineering earlier this week, reporters were scratching their heads about the take-home message from the report.  The British coverage was across the map, ranging from Boffins:...

Read More

Farewell, ESA Meeting 2009

As ESA’s Annual Meeting drew to a close today and the city of Albuquerque breathed a sigh of relief — now there might be places for locals to sit in a restaurant! — the echoes of the meeting were just beginning.  Scientific meetings are a place to bring together scientists from myriad subfields: in the case of ecology, from biogeochemistry to microbial ecology to agroforestry to physiological ecology…and the...

Read More

Meet the Press: Scientists talk ecology with the media

Last night the worlds of science and journalism collided at the ESA Annual Meeting in a session to help scientists learn how to communicate with the media. Fittingly called Meet the Press: Talking Ecology with the Media, the interactive session played out like a science American Idol, with scientists pitching their research to a panel of “judges”: two journalists and a media-savvy scientist. The three panelists first...

Read More

When scientific fiction replaces good science

Good science writers – as with all reporters – should verify the validity of their stories before publishing, making sure to cite the peer-reviewed research detailing a new discovery. But as in the case of the purported cane toad-eating frog, an exciting enough fact with weak empirical support can sometimes take off like….well, an invasive species. In 2005 and 2006, several media sources (including the Australian Broadcasting...

Read More